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Thursday, February 7, 2008

Obama and Clinton's War Vote

I am a strong supporter of Barak Obama in the Democratic primaries, but he really must get the 2002 Iraq vote right (One on One Democrats, Set Aim at G.O.P., New York Times, February 1, 2008: A1).

The vote was designed to give the President leverage in calling Iraq to account before the United Nations. It exemplified realpolitik at its best. Senator Clinton and the other Senators voting in the affirmative were right to do so.

It is hard to remember the sequence of events from 2001 up to the present day. Until November 2002 (that is until the President had the support of Senate and House to use force) the Iraqis refused to allow UN inspectors to undertake inspections for Weapons of Mass Destruction on Iraqi territory. By the end of November, inspections under the direction of Hans Blix were under way. The vote to grant the President war powers had achieved its purpose, the Iraq regime was being called to account for its actions.

We have forgotten too that Hans Blix called on the US and Britain to give his inspectors the "hard intelligence" that they claimed to possess so that his inspectors could go to check out that information on the ground. The failure of the US and Britain to do so should have roused our suspicions that all was not well with the intelligence -- its invalidity has been amply demonstrated in the past years.

Where we went wrong -- the Senate, and the House, and the country, and all of us -- was the failure to recognize the importance of the inspector's reports in mid February 2003 that there was no evidence of immanent danger from Iraq. That information should have led to a re-evaluation of the war power resolution and and led to its repeal based on the changed situation. We failed to do so and we are reaping the tragic consequences today.

So Barak Obama should stop attacking Senator Clinton for her vote. He can chastise her for not reconsidering the issue in February of 2003.

Sent to New York Times

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